Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin

Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences



August 30, 2010

Sexual Offender arrested for giving false address

Sheriff’s detectives arrested a sexual offender who gave a false address in Monroe County, and failed to register with state authorities as required by law.

Sexual Offenders are required by law to register their address with local and state authorities. 23 year old Francis Augustino Mercede is a sexual offender who was in jail in Monroe County in June on failure to appear in court charges, related to a case from 2009 when he was arrested on misdemeanor drug charges. Mercede was convicted in 2005 in Sukol County, Pennsylvania for Sexual Intercourse with a Minor.

When he was released from jail June 14th, he registered at the jail, ,saying the address he intended to live was 206 Hispaniola Street in Tavernier. He subsequently failed, however, to register with the State of Florida. On August 9th, the State of Florida notified Detective Deb Ryan he had failed to do so. The following day, Detective Mark Coleman went to the address on Hispaniola Street to look for Mercede. He discovered the address did not exist and that no one on the street recognized him as having been there.
A warrant was issued for Mercede for failure to register as a sexual offender. On Saturday, he was found by Deputy John Perez at 102 Harry Harris Drive in Tavernier. He tried to hide in a closet and failed to comply with officers orders to come out. A brief struggle ensued, and Mercede was taken into custody. He was charged with the warrant, and with resisting arrest and he was booked into jail.

Key Largo man charged with reckless driving

Rock Harbor – A Key Largo man was arrested Saturday morning after fleeing from Sheriff’s deputies.

Deputy Don Dalton was northbound at 10 a.m. when a black Mercedes passed him traveling in excess of the speed limit. When the deputy turned on his lights and siren, the Mercedes, driven by 53 year old William Lyon, pulled into the left turn lane and turned south. As Deputy Dalton turned to pursue him, Lyon accelerated away from him. When the deputy reached speeds of 75 to 80 miles an hour, he decided to terminate his pursuit.

He radioed ahead for other officers to keep an eye out for the vehicle and he continued south. Just minutes later, he spotted the Mercedes traveling north on the southbound side of the highway against traffic. Deputy Matt Koval was able to stop the vehicle at the 92 mile marker. At that point, northbound traffic had stopped due to the vehicle traveling against the flow of traffic.

Lyon was arrested and charged with fleeing and eluding police and reckless driving. He was booked into jail.

August 29, 2010

Multi-Agency operation nets drugs, cash

On August 27, 2010 Detectives from the Special Investigations Division conducted a highway interdiction operation at the weigh station scales in Islamorada. Participating in the operation was the Traffic Enforcement Division, troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol and there K-9 Unit, The Department of Transportation, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, The Mobile Enforcement Team, The Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Coast Guard Investigative Service,  Monroe County HIDTA, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

During the operation Agents deployed the VACIS system which was operated by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems (VACIS) is currently being used throughout ports, concentrating on the southern tier of the United States. VACIS, a gamma ray imaging system, uses radiographic images to help Inspectors examine the contents of trucks, containers, cargo, and passenger vehicles for hidden compartments containing contraband. The system was developed in 2000 as a joint project between the U.S. Customs Service, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Department of Defense.

During the Interdiction Agents officers and Detectives worked together in locating contraband and other violations. A simultaneous interdiction was also conducted on US-1 from mile marker 80 to mile marker 93.

On the first traffic stop of the operations, Narcotics detectives pulled over a vehicle with 3 occupants that were later identified as Thomas Council, Howie Schnieder, and Patrick Stickney. Narcotics K-9 Deja gave a positive alert to the vehicle. Detectives then located 139 grams of crack cocaine, 87 grams of powder cocaine, 12 grams of marijuana, 5 xanax pills, and seized $2047 in possible drug proceeds. Council and Schnieder were charged with Trafficking in cocaine, Stickney was charged with possession of marijuana. All three were booked into the Monroe County Jail.

During the Interdiction officers made 151 stops, issued 84 citations, conducted 31 K-9 searches,  conducted 7 VACIS inspections( Vehicle and Cargo Inspection system), Issued 4 notice to appear for narcotics,  9 arrest for undocumented workers, and made 3 drug arrest.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Located two trucks that contained over 300 pounds of Shark meat, two Sail Fish and over $5000 in whole lobsters. Their investigation on the undocumented seafood is on-going.

August 27, 2010

Search warrant on Conch Key results in one drug arrest

 Conch Key - Sheriff's Special Investigations Detectives served two search warrant at 4:30 PM today on Conch Key.

Detectives served the warrant at South Conch Ave at trailer #11 and #12. Outside trailer #11, detectives located 41 year old Jose Antonio Mendez. A search of that trailer turned up 52 grams of marijuana and a scale. Trailer 12 was found empty.

Mendez was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mendez was booked into the Monroe County Jail.

Key Largo man charged with burglary

Key Largo - A Key Largo man has been charged with burglarizing a residence on August 12th.

Deputy Jacques Rozak responded to an apartment at the 101 mile marker of the highway to reports of a burglary. When he arrived, he met with the victim who returned home to find his residence burglarized. He said prescription medication and money had been stolen. A witness who lives in a neighboring apartment told the deputy he saw a man using a hammer to break a window to get in to the apartment. He said he got scared and ran away. He was able to describe the suspect and the victim recognized the description as a man he knows named "Alex".

Detective Francisco Gaete was assigned to investigate. He showed the victim and the witness a photo line up, and they both identified 27 year old Alexander Sardinas of Tavernier as the man who was seen breaking in to the apartment. A warrant was obtained for Sardinas and on Thursday he was arrested. He was charged with burglary, criminal mischief and grand theft. He was booked into jail.

August 26, 2010

Search warrant in Tavernier results in 2 drug arrest

marijuanaTavernier - A search warrant, served in Tavernier Wednesday resulted in arrests in Monroe County and a subsequent search of a home in Orange County as well.

Special Investigations detectives and road patrol deputies served the warrant at 235 Antigua Road at 2:30 p.m. Inside, they found 58 year old Carlin Magnus and his son, 28 year old Birch Magnus. They also found 862 grams of marijuana packaged for sale, 12 grams of Hash, two grams of mushrooms, four guns, over a thousand rounds of ammunition and $4,483.00 in cash suspected to be the proceeds of drug sales.

Both men were arrested. Carl Magnus was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of paraphernalia; Birch Magnus was charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. The cash was seized for possible forfeiture.

Based on evidence collected at the Antigua Road residence, detectives had suspicions that the drugs they found were connected to a larger cultivation operation; they contacted Orange County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Division, communicating the information they had gathered, along with the address of a home Birch Magnus owns in Orlando. Orange County Detectives obtained a search warrant for that residence and found approximately 80 marijuana plants growing there. They also found power being illegally diverted to the home, due to the large amount of electricity needed to grow the marijuana.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office and Orange County Sheriff's Office are working together on the case; more charges are expected as a result of the Orange County case.

Running a stop sign leads to drug arrest

Coke in a canMarathon - A Marathon man who ran a stop sign in his Ford Excursion was arrested after drugs were found in the vehicle.

Sgt. Joel Slough was on patrol in the vicinity of 10th Street and Aviation Boulevard in Marathon Wednesday at 10:10 p.m. when he saw the vehicle run a stop sign. He pulled the car over and the driver identified himself as 40 year old Ruben Ruiz. While Sgt. Slough was issuing Ruiz a citation, K-9 Deputy David Minor arrived with his dog Tracer; he walked the dog around the vehicle and the dog alerted, indicating the presence of illegal substances inside.

A further search turned up a Coca Cola can which had been altered; the top had been cut off and a plastic bottle had been inserted inside. In the plastic bottle was marijuana and cocaine. A digital scale was also found in the vehicle, along with $631.00 in cash.

Ruiz was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. The cash and the vehicle were seized for possible forfeiture.



August 24, 2010

Man arrested for raping two young girls

Key Largo - A Key Largo man was arrested Monday, charged with repeatedly raping and sexually abusing two young girls.

34 year old Hector Hernandez is accused of abusing the girls repeatedly when they stayed alone with him in Key Largo. The girls are 11 and 15 years old now, but the alleged abuse took place when the younger one was between 6 and 7 years old, and when the older one was 7 and 8 years old. The victims told their mother about the sexual abuse in April of this year. The mother called the Sheriff's Office to report it.

According to the victims, Hernandez sexually abused them in the Keys, and in Virginia as well. Virginia authorities are also investigating the allegations.

Hernandez is charged with three counts of sexual battery on a child under 12 and lewd and lascivious acts on a child. He is currently in Monroe County Jail. Bond is set at $650,000.00.

August 22, 2010

Gun threats lead to arrest

Marathon – A confrontation Saturday afternoon in Marathon led to an arrest after one man held a gun to another man’s head.

According to witnesses and the victim, 49 year old Jose Boveda went to a business on 20th Street and confronted the victim about a business deal. During the course of the confrontation, Boveda allegedly pulled out a handgun and held it to the head of the victim, threatening to kill him. As Boveda was leaving the area, he also hit the victim in the head.

A notice to be on the lookout was issued over police radios; a short time later Boveda’s vehicle was pulled over on Big Pine Key by the Florida Highway Patrol. A .45 caliber handgun was recovered during the traffic stop. Boveda was identified by he victim as the man who threatened to kill him.

Boveda was charged with aggravated assault and battery and he was booked into jail.

Miami men charged with illegally transporting fuel

Key Largo – Two Miami men caught with 300 gallons of gasoline in a truck, traveling southbound in Key Largo were arrested.

Deputy Tony Conde spotted the black 1998 Dodge Ram pickup at the 101 mile marker at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, driving with its hazard flashers on. When the driver saw the deputy, he turned the hazards off and continued driving. Deputy Conde noticed the passenger in the truck had no seatbelt on so he pulled it over.

As he approached the truck, he smelled a strong odor of gasoline. In the back of the truck, through the windows of a camper top on the back, he could see multiple containers of fuel.

When he asked the driver where they were going, the driver said he was going to a marina where they were going to go on a boat, fishing in the Bahamas. He wasn’t sure where the marina was, though. When the deputy asked the passenger where they were going, he said he couldn’t remember.

Adding to his suspicions of possible smuggling activity, Deputy Conde also saw cases of water in the back seat of the truck and found a GPS unit in the truck as well.

38 year old Alain Cordero-Miranda of Miami and 59 year old Narciso Gonzalez of Hialeah were arrested for transporting 300 gallons of fuel in unapproved containers. They were booked into jail.

August 20, 2010

Search warrant on Stock Island results in 4 drug arrest

marijuanaPhoto on the right, marijuana prepackaged for sale, found during search warrant on Stock Island.

Stock Island - Sheriff's Special Investigations Detectives, City of Key West detectives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration served a search warrant at 1:00 p.m. Thursday on Stock Island.

Detectives served the warrant at Sunset Harbor Trailer Park 5031 5th Ave D-2. Inside Detectives located 61 year old Baldomero Noa Cordova, 22 year old Deni Noa, 20 year old Alain Menendez, and 36 year old Susan Davalos. A search of the trailer turned up 43 crack cocaine rocks, 2 grams of powder cocaine, and 14 bags of marijuana pre packaged for sale.

Cordova was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; Noa was charged with possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana; Davalos was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. Menendez was charged with violation of Probation. All four were booked into The Monroe County Jail.

Search warrant in Marathon results in drug arrest

candlesPhoto on the left, of candles meant to keep away police, and win a case in court.

Marathon - Sheriff's Special Investigations Detectives and Patrol Deputies served a search warrant at 6 a.m. today (Friday) in Marathon.

The residence where the warrant was served was 450 83rd St . Inside detectives located 31 year old Tanaris Taville Walker, a woman and two children. A search of the trailer revealed miscellaneous drug paraphernalia. Detectives also located three candles that, if burned, were supposed to keep law enforcement away, to get a Just Judge for your court case, and to help win your Court Case.  

Walker was served with two arrest warrants for Trafficking Opium, Sale of Cocaine, and driving while license was suspended. He was booked into the Monroe County Jail.





August 19, 2010

Search warrant in Big Coppit results in drug arrest

Big Coppit - Sheriff's Special Investigations Detectives served a search warrant at 7 a.m. today on Big Coppit Key.

Detectives served the warrant at 300 Ave E and found 18 year old Calvin Lee, Jr. inside the trailer. A search turned up 581 grams of marijuana, some prepackaged for sale. Lee admitted to detectives he began selling marijuana 3 months ago.

Lee was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

August 16, 2010

Man charged with stealing, pawning items

Key Largo - A Key Largo man was arrested on outstanding warrants for stealing a large number of items from his mother and pawning them for cash.

In April of 2009, the victim met with Deputy Kenneth Baker to report tools and other items taken from her storage shed at her house on Janet Place. She told the deputy her son, 41 year old Stanley Fisher, was a suspect in the case. At the time of the report, Fisher was on probation for grand theft and dealing in stolen property; he'd moved to Wisconsin and had his probation reassigned there..

Deputy Baker had the victim call Fisher and confront him about the theft of her property. On the phone, Fisher admitted to taking the items and pawning them before moving to Wisconsin. In all, he allegedly stole approximately $5,000.00 worth of tools and other equipment; he pawned the property at two locations in Key Largo.

Many of the stolen items were recovered; a warrant was issued for Fisher's arrest for five counts of grand theft and five counts of dealing in stolen property; On Saturday, he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on the warrant, and on two other warrants for failure to appear in court and violation of probation.

August 14, 2010

Men stripping boat interrupted by deputy

Ramrod Key – A deputy interrupted a group of men stripping a boat of its engine and electronics after an alert neighbor reported suspicious activity on Ramrod K ey early Friday.

Just after midnight, Deputy John Gabay responded to St. Vincent Lane to check on a report that a boat was being stripped. When he arrived, he saw a truck with a boat on a trailer; it was backed in at a house on the street. Three or four men were on and around the boat. When they realized a deputy had arrived, they fled, jumping into a canal behind the house.

Further investigation revealed wires had been cut to the engine and the electronics had been removed from the center console. The owner, who was from Glades County, was staying at the Big Pine Fishing Lodge. He had left his boat tied up at the dock and was unaware it was missing.

A search of the area failed to turn up any of the suspects, but the truck and trailer left at the scene were seized. The investigation into the incident continues.

August 6, 2010

Traffic stop leads to drugs, gun

Stock Island - A traffic stop for a headlight that was out led to the arrest of a Hialeah man for drugs and a gun Thursday night.

Deputy Evan Calhoun saw the Chevy Impala on MacDonald Avenue, Stock Island at 9:15 p.m. He saw the headlight was out, so he pulled it over. The driver, 23 year old Jesus Hernandez said he was aware it was out, but couldn't afford to fix it. When he reached into a bag to get his license, Deputy Calhoun could see a large amount of cash in the bag. He asked Hernandez for permission to search the bag and Hernandez agreed. He found $1,000 in cash in the bag; he then asked Hernandez for permission to search the car, which Hernandez granted.

Deputy Danielle Malone arrived to assist. The deputies found marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy in the car; under the driver's side floor mat, Deputy Malone also found a loaded semi-automatic pistol.

Hernandez was arrested. He was charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and carrying a concealed firearm. He was booked into jail.

August 5, 2010

Homestead man charged with stealing wave runner, trailer

Key Largo - A Homestead man was arrested after an alert neighbor on Corrine Place saw something suspicious and called the Sheriff's Office to report it.

The neighbor said he was walking his dog and saw a white truck parked at his neighbor's house at 9 p.m. When he approached to see what the truck was doing there, the driver flashed his bright lights at him and sped away, pulling a wave runner on a trailer. When the neighbor checked the gate at the house, he found the lock had been cut off. He called the Sheriff's Office.

A notice to be on the lookout was issued over police radios and Deputy Bryan Cross spotted it at the 102 mile marker of the highway. He and Deputy Ian Barnett pulled the truck over. The driver said someone offered him $100.00 to go to the Key Largo house and pick the wave runner up.

****record sealed****   of Homestead was charged with burglary and two counts of grand theft. His truck was seized and he was booked into jail.

Body positively identified as Georgia man

Key Largo - The body recovered offshore of Pennekamp State Park with chains wrapped around it and a gunshot wound to the head has been positively identified as 54 year old Michael J. Smith. Detectives say a fingerprint on the man's concealed weapons permit was used as a comparison to make the identification.

The autopsy was performed and there was nothing found that is inconsistent with detectives belief he committed suicide.

August 3, 2010

Sheriff's Office investigates boater's death

Key Largo - Sheriff's detectives and dive team members recovered a body believed to be that of a missing boater about 2.5 miles offshore of Pennekamp State Park Monday evening.

Searchers from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had been looking for the Georgia man since he was reported missing Sunday. The boat he rented was recovered first, and an operating GPS was found on board. Members of the Key Largo Volunteer Fire/Rescue Water Emergency Team used the GPS Monday to trace his route, and found a body in about 19 feet of water during that search. The body was that of a male, believed to be 54 year old Michael J. Smith. Smith's identification and credit cards were found in a bag attached to his waist. The Medical Examiner will be doing a fingerprint comparison to confirm the body's identity.

The body had a length of chain wrapped around it, with hands and arms left free. A gun - a Glock Model 30 - was found underwater near the body, which had a gunshot wound in its head. Smith's son, who is a police detective in the area of Atlanta, said his father owned just such a gun. According to witnesses where Smith rented the boat, he was seen getting onto the boat carrying a duffel bag which appeared to be very heavy and which may have contained the length of chain. Detectives say they do not believe foul play was involved in the death; it appears Smith may have committed suicide, although they say they will continue to investigate the circumstances.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of his death and fingerprints will be used to confirm it is, indeed, Smith.

Have you seen this traffic control light?

Traffic lightA Sheriff’s detective needs help in finding a stolen traffic control light.

The light, valued at about $4,000.00, was stolen July 29th from the road construction project on Boca Chico Road, Big Coppitt Key. It is three feet tall, with an antenna mounted on the top, in new condition.

If anyone knows where this light might be, contact Detective Manny Cuervo at 305-292-7060 or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS and tips can be submitted on line at